images42“American Idol” night, Tuesday, April 27, 2010:  The show opens with Ryan Seacrest labeling the 6 remaining contestants as (variously) “a paint salesman,” “a glass blower,” “a high school student,” “a mother,” “a father,” and “a construction worker.” I wondered, as he branded Big Mike and Crystal as the father and mother, respectively, “Didn’t these people have jobs before this?” I’m pretty sure that Big Mike was referenced as being “a trainer” and one would think that Crystal also worked to support her son.

Seacrest next shared the amount raised by “Idol Gives Back” in its last show: “more than $45 million.” Some of you may remember that I decried the use of video footage of a dying pregnant woman (malaria) to elicit those donations. I guess the Powers-that-Be know their marketing ploys. Still bothers me, but whatever.

The mentor this night was Shania Twain and she was identified as, “She’s the one who made country pop” and “the biggest cross-over artist in history.” The additional nugget of information shared was that Shania’s song “Come On Over” was “the biggest seller by a woman in history.”  One of the Idol contestants was seen saying, “Shania’s the Queen of country music. She’s an icon.”

Shania Twain (whose birth name was Eilleen Regina Edwards, and who only changed her name to Shania in 1993-1994 after the Ojibwa word for “on my way”) also helped judge Idol auditions in Chicago, so she had met both Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox at that time.

The problem with tonight’s program was that everyone did a great job. The least well-received song was probably Crystal Bowersox’s, but Crystal has consistently been one of the two best performers. There was also a criticism (by Simon) of Big Mike Lynche’s rendering of the song he selected as “too feminine,” but I noticed what Ellen DeGeneres commented on. I’d left the room to get something from the refrigerator. When Michael Lynche sang “It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing,” at first I thought I was listening to Luther Vandross, which is a huge compliment.

First performer of the night was Lee DeWyze and he sang “You’re Still the One.” It was the perfect song for Lee, as Simon noted during his remarks (“Absolutely the perfect song out of Shania’s catalogue.”) and Lee did well with it. Ellen also commented, “Every song you take, you make it your own. You couldn’t look cuter.”  Randy called the song, “One of my favorite songs of all time. Midway through, you found a way to make it your own.”  Ellen said, “Every song you take, you make it your own.”  So, Lee did quite well and looked as good as I’ve seen him look at any time, wearing a suit jacket and eschewing the “woodsman-fell-that-tree” look he sometimes adopts. His decision to sing quietly at the beginning with only piano back up was lauded by both Shania Twain and, the judges and the audience. For one, he didn’t seem to be hiding behind his guitar.

Second up was Michael Lynche and he, too, did a great job. Randy said, “You’re one of those guys who could sign the phone book and everybody would melt, but don’t take it for granted.” I was struck (as I mentioned above) at how much he sounded like Luther Vandross, if you were not looking at the screen while he sang. Randy said, “I think you’ve really found your zone.  You are really in the zone of who you are.  Very good,” Ellen said, “I felt like Luther Vandross was singing that song.  I thought it was beautiful.”  Kara felt that Mike had “connected” with the lyrics and called it a “great job.”  Simon was the only naysayer, commenting that it felt “a little bit girly for you,” and calling it “wet” and, “As though you were in a musical.” I understand Simon’s “girly” comment, but it is a comment that has applied throughout Big Mike’s time in the competition. I mean: come on…”Eleanor Rigby”?  Mike has primarily focused on singing sensitive songs that do display a softer, more feminine side. He can get away with this because…well, because he’s Big Mike. I really liked his performance this night, but I fear that, ultimately, Big Mike may lose out in this competition because he is not physically what the show seems to want to package. However, having said that, let’s not forget Reuben Stoddard. Only time (and America’s votes) will tell. It is a fact that, were it not for the judges’ save, Big Mike would have been gone a couple weeks back, so keep that in mind when trying to figure out who America is not voting for.

Next up was Casey James, who sang “Don’t”, which he described as “a singing song.”  All were unanimous in their praise of his efforts to give the audience something different.  Randy called it, “For me, this was one of the best Casey James performances ever.”  Ellen said, “You sang that like that’s really where you belong.  Your best to date.”  Kara said, “Good artists show it all. They show it all.  Vulnerable. Raw.  If you keep doing this, you’ll be at the front of this competition.”  Simon said, “I think this is probably your best performance to date.”  No way is the cute Casey going home. He should make it to at least the final three, especially if he continues to display this new sensitive Casey.

Crystal Bowersox followed Casey and sang a very country sounding song (“No One Needs to Know”) that had Randy comment, “I love you, and I’m happy someone is doing more of a country version of a song.”  Ellen said, “There’s nothin’ you can’t do.  It wasn’t my favorite performance.” (Translation: bad song choice.)  Kara said, “It’s impossible for you not to be good.  Bigger isn’t always better.” This caused some sly cracks by Simon to the effect, “Oh, I could get in so much trouble.”  What Simon did say was, “I thought it was limp.  It’s like when you’re in a coffee shop where they pay someone to sing to you and you don’t particularly want them to sing to you.  I didn’t feel any connection to the song.” And, with apologies to Shania sitting behind him in the audience, he said, “A forgettable song.” Unfortunately, all were right. I’m reminded of the season when, week after week, Melinda Dolittle delivered, but, ultimately, she did not win. Is Crystal the best-looking contestant? No. Is Crystal the most talented contestant? Arguably, yes. Was Melinda Dolittle the most talented and the most consistent during her year of competition? Again, arguably yes, but she did not win. I’m hoping that America remembers all the great weeks that Crystal has given us and doesn’t penalize her for one mediocre song choice.

Aaron Kelly came out and sang ‘You Got A Way.” Shania advised,” Aaron to “end where you know you feel safe and good.” She said, “It’s almost as though he is preoccupied,” which may well be attributable to Aaron’s extreme youth.  Shania said, “I wanted him (Aaron) to know that he’s here already.  We already love him.  Now just give us what you love.” Aaron is fond of “big finishes” and no time did he give a bigger one than tonight.  Randy said, “You’re our country artist and dude, I think you really did a great job.”  Ellen commented on Aaron’s emotional depth for a sixteen-year-old and was quickly corrected by Aaron, who said he was now 17.  She ended, “Good job.”  Kara said, “I completely agree with those words.”  Simon said, “I think the last 2 or 3 weeks you’ve really struggled.   You were a totally different artist tonight.  You didn’t get it at all.  For the first time in weeks, you were believable.  I think you did really well tonight.”

The final performer of the night, Siobhan Magnus, sang “Any Man of Mine.” This song was Shania’s first top 10 song and her first Number One Hit Single.  As always, Siobhan was attired in a mysterious garment from another galaxy.  It consisted of a very short skirt with a flouncy thing going on at the hip, bared arms to reveal black tattoos on her left shoulder, and weird white boots. Randy commented, “I loved it” and the outfit was part of his “I loved it.” (Of course, we’ve all seen how Randy dresses.)  Ellen said, “Way to pull the Shania Twain into the station.  Way to end the show.”  Kara said, “Guess who’s back!”  Simon said, “It was fun. It was good. I really like that song,” but, once again, commented on her really high powerful notes at the end, saying it sounded like someone was “giving birth.”

So, who is going home out of this group on Wednesday?

I’ve said for weeks that the best 2 were Lee and Crystal, and I think that Casey has the “overall package” of looks and talent that the show wants to promote as their next “American Idol.” I fear for Aaron because he’s so young, and for Mike because his song choices are (always) so “girly” and for Siobhan because she’s so weird. (And I mean that in a good way.)
Your guess is as good as mine. I’m still betting on the top 3 mentioned above to hang around the longest.